My perfect day in Barcelona starts early. I want to make the most of it, so I get up before daybreak, at around five am. Bleary-eyed, and still half asleep, I wander into the kitchen and refill the moka pot that sits on the hob.
As I wait for the coffee to bubble up into the top part of the pot, I hurriedly pull on my board shorts and a long-sleeved rash vest before dragging my inflatable SUP down from on top of the wardrobe.
I half fill a mug with steaming coffee, then top it up with cold milk so that it’s cool enough to drink. It doesn’t taste great, but I haven’t time to wait for the bar on the corner to open, and I need my early morning caffeine fix.
I guzzle down the brown elixir and quickly pack the pump, 3-part paddle and a bottle of water into the oversized rucksack with the paddleboard. Flip flops on, and I’m out the door, hurrying downstairs to the street on my way to the metro.
It’s early Saturday morning, and the metro is almost deserted. I share a carriage with a small group of late-night revellers on their way home. I take the yellow line to Barceloneta.
It’s still dark as I leave the station, and there’s an early morning chill in the air. Hurrying along Passeig de Joan de Borbó, I swing my arms to keep warm as I make my way to the beach. Once at the beach, I roll out the inflatable paddleboard, fit the fin and start to inflate it.
Ten minutes later, I’m ready to go. I assemble the paddle, bundle up the board bag and secure it on the front of the board. I put my wallet and keys into a waterproof pouch and strap the leash to my right leg, just below the knee.
The sea is like a mirror and, as I paddle slowly out to sea, the first rays of sunrise reflect off the Hotel Vela. Once out past the breakwaters, I can see a few enormous container ships anchored offshore, waiting to enter the port. I turn left and slowly head north, contemplating the waking city as I paddle parallel to the beach.
As the sun rises higher, a gentle breeze fills in from the south, helping me on my way. The view of Barcelona from the sea is like no other. I marvel at the city’s skyline and the hills of Montjuïc and Tibidabo. Paddling steadily, I’m making good progress.
Once past the Olympic Marina, I head to the shore, jumping off at the last minute and lifting the board up before it touches the sand. I quickly carry the board across the beach to the promenade, where I let it dry in the sun for a few minutes before deflating it and packing it back into its bag.
It’s mid-morning now as I walk from Bogatell beach to the Rambla del Poblenou where I meet up with my partner. We find an empty table outside one of the Rambla’s many bars and cafés and sit down for breakfast, possibly at Blu Bar (Rambla del Poblenou, 11) or Tío Ché (Rambla del Poblenou, 44).
After breakfast, we head home to our apartment, where I shower and change my clothes before we head out again to meet some friends in the city centre. It’s about one o’clock by now, time to “anar a fer un vermut”; the Catalan tradition of having a drink and a snack before lunch.
We meet our friends at Plaça de Catalunya and walk two blocks to La Masia (Carrer d’Elisabets, 16), a small bar in the Raval neighbourhood that serves relatively strong vermouth and excellent patatas bravas.
A couple of drinks later, it’s time for lunch, and we decide to eat at L’Hortet (Carrer del Pintor Fortuny, 32), one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona. The weekend set lunch is good value, and the place is usually busy.
After lunch, our friends head to the beach, but my partner and I decide to go to an exhibition at the MACBA.
Upon leaving the museum, we stop for a quick coffee outside one of the bars on Plaça de Viçenc Martorell. From here, we take a wander down Carrer dels Tallers, where we stop at Revólver Records (Carrer dels Tallers, 11) to shop for vinyl.
A small whiteboard at the entrance to the shop lists upcoming concerts, and it turns out that Guns N’ Roses will be playing at Sala Razzmatazz (Carrer dels Almogàvers, 122) tonight. I briefly kick myself for not hearing about this sooner before hurrying inside to see if there are any tickets available.
Of course, in reality a gig like this would have sold out months ago, but this is my perfect day and luckily there are still a few tickets left. We buy two tickets and head home to our apartment where we chill out on the balcony, listening to the parakeets chattering in the trees below.
Two hours later, we’re in Sidonie (formerly Pepe Bar, Carrer de Pamplona, 91), enjoying a pre-gig beer and a bocata. It’s not the best food in the world, but it’s right opposite the venue and has become a bit of an institution. The tiny bar is packed to the rafters and people are spilling out onto the street.
Once inside the venue the atmosphere is electric. I’ve seen a lot of concerts in Barcelona, but never one quite like this. The band’s in good form and play a set which encompasses their entire career. During the encores they’re joined onstage by former bandmates Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler.
After the concert, we walk home along Carrer dels Almogàvers. The last strains of Paradise City are still ringing in our ears when I turn to my partner and proclaim: This has truly been a perfect day!
Richard moved to Barcelona in 2001 and set up Barcelona Lowdown in 2013 as a place to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for his adopted home town. The blog is an insider’s guide to Barcelona with a diverse mix of posts aimed at both tourists and locals.
If you’d like to write your ‘Perfect Day in Barcelona’ then please get in touch via the email address at the bottom of this website. I’d love to hear from you. The more we have the better!